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Drug addictions come in all shapes and sizes, but no matter what drug addiction you suffer, it should be taken seriously. Addictions to hard drugs such as methamphetamine, also known as meth, are very serious issues.

Meth addiction can cause serious health issues and can even cause death. Meth is one of many addictive hard drugs in the United States, and thousands of people suffer from meth addiction each year.

Meth is a drug that can take over a person’s life and ruin it in a matter of months. It has taken lives and ruined the lives of many good people. Struggling with meth addiction is not something an addict has to deal with alone. The shame and stigma around drug addiction is something that our country needs to address in change so that addicts can get the help that they rightly deserve and need.

If you or someone you love is using meth and you are concerned that they might be addicted, please read on to find out how to tell if someone is addicted to meth and how to help them get the help they need and deserve.

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What Are the Side Effects & Symptoms of Meth Use?

Meth is a synthetically made stimulant drug that is highly addictive. It can be injected, smoked, taken orally, or snorted and is frequently used along with other substances or drugs.

Because meth is a stimulant, the user will experience a temporary feeling of extreme euphoria, increased energy, and heightened alertness. That is because the stimulant behavior of the drug increases the amount of dopamine in the body. Dopamine is a naturally occurring chemical released by the brain from the reward center and helps create the feeling of happiness.

Dopamine is released in many ways, including through physical activity and some drugs. It increases motivation to repeat the behavior that triggered the dopamine release and reinforces conditions of reward behaviors. This means that if you do something when your brain releases dopamine, you will become addicted to it because you know that behavior will bring about the release of dopamine and make you feel good. This is the cause of many addictions, not just drug addictions. 

Some of the side effects of using meth are quite extreme. Meth changes how your brain functions on a chemical level, so your personality, mental clarity, and mental health can change quite drastically over time while using the drug.

Because meth is a stimulant, it increases the speed at which the body functions. This means that the user’s blood pressure will increase, their heart rate will speed up, and their breathing will quicken. This can trigger panic attacks, anxiety attacks, and serious cardiovascular issues.

People addicted to meth may experience severe cases of paranoia, irritability, mood disruptions, anxiety, hallucinations, and express highly aggressive behavior even if they have never been an aggressive person.

The short-term effects of meth usage include the following:

  • Issues with sleep
  • Little or no appetite
  • Nausea
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Irritability
  • High blood pressure
  • Quickened or irregular heart rate
  • Fast breathing
  • Violent behavior
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These short-term effects can happen from taking meth just once or even a small dose of meth.

The long-term effects of meth usage are incredibly serious and can result in serious body damage for years after quitting. Using meth chronically can lead to permanent brain damage, high blood pressure, heart attacks, lung damage, kidney failure, liver damage, strokes, mental health issues such as anxiety, insomnia, premature osteoporosis, dental issues, hallucinations, aggressive or violent behavior, psychotic symptoms, skin sores from intense itching, and death.

The psychotic symptoms associated with meth can last for years after meth usage ends. The psychotic symptoms include hallucinations, disruptions in a person’s mood, experiencing delusions and paranoia, or expressing extremely violent or aggressive behavior towards other people. These psychotic symptoms are the results of meth usage and are not a result of other mental health issues.

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Addicted to Using Meth: Signs & Symptoms that Someone is Addicted to Meth

There are a variety of symptoms and warning signs that can indicate somebody is suffering from meth addiction. Because meth affects a person’s brain and body, the symptoms and signs that someone is addicted to meth are visible in several ways.

One of the most common symptoms of Meth addiction is a sudden lack of interest in things that were once very important to the person. Suddenly, relationships, their career, hobbies, family, and friends, take a back seat so the user can get meth.

People will often try to hide their meth addiction and drug use in the beginning. However, the longer somebody uses meth, the easier it is to see that there is an issue. It will turn from a recreational activity to a priority in their life, which is hard to hide.

 Some of the symptoms of meth addiction visible to other people are:

  • Increase energy or hyperactivity while they are high
  • Moving sporadically or twitching
  • Facial tics
  • Visible skin sores
  • Extreme and sudden weight loss
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Dilated pupils
  • Decrease appetite
  • Burns on the lips or the fingers
  • Insomnia or disturbed sleep patterns
  • Sudden and extreme dental Issues
  • Violent outbursts
  • Mood swings
  • Tweaking

Tweaking is a symptom of meth use that can last 3 to 15 days. It is a period of extreme anxiety and insomnia. It occurs after a drug binge when the user cannot get the high anymore. Tweaking can cause psychological issues such as irritability, paranoia, and confusion because of the desperation and addiction to get high again. People can also hallucinate and become extremely violent when they are tweaking.

Another symptom of meth usage and addiction is the meth crash. The crash is when the body cannot get the surge of dopamine that meth was giving it, and it causes extreme depression and exhaustion. A meth crash can last up to 3 days and is often identifiable by the user sleeping for a long time, having strong drug cravings, and intense depression.

Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline for Meth Use

The withdrawal symptoms for men are both physical and mental. It is a very difficult process but is worth the effort to get clean. Meth withdrawal can include a variety of symptoms in each phase of withdrawal.

In the initial section of withdrawal, someone addicted to meth will experience dehydration, changes in their appetite, psychosis, exhaustion, fatigue, anxiety, muscle aches, extreme cravings for meth, and headaches.

After the beginning, the withdrawal symptoms taper off, and the longer-term symptoms kick in. Long-term meth withdrawal symptoms can cause depression, anxiety, disturbed sleep schedule, intense drug cravings, and cognitive issues.

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Withdrawal begins with the crash and tweaking stages of meth addiction, where the body no longer gets the influx of drugs it wants. After the tweaking and crash days are over, the beginning of withdrawal will set in. The short-term withdrawal symptoms can last up to 2 weeks, and the longer-term symptoms can last months.

The first withdrawal phase is also called detox, when the body adjusts to not having the drug. Detox can be incredibly difficult, and most healthcare professionals will advise that a person undergo the experience of detoxing from meth with medical supervision. This is extremely important if an addict has been addicted for a long time because it is very easy to slip back into using the drug again.

Treatment For an Addiction to Meth: How to Mitigate Withdrawal Symptoms

Since withdrawal from meth is an extremely intense experience, most doctors and healthcare professionals recommend that a person goes through withdrawal and detox under supervision. It is further recommended that the supervision by a person in the medical field who understands meth addiction.

Some medications can be given to users undergoing detox to help mitigate their reactions and discomfort during the process, but that relies on communicating with healthcare professionals about your addiction.

There is also the risk that a user relapses and accidentally overdoses on meth. Fatal accidents like these can be avoided with medical care and supervision. 

One of the biggest concerns of the withdrawal and detoxification process is dehydration. Dehydration can quickly kill a person, and because people experiencing withdrawal and detox can become extremely paranoid, have severe anxiety, or hallucinate, they may forget to drink water and take care of themselves.

If you or a loved one is suffering from meth addiction, please know that there are better days ahead and help is available. You deserve care, treatment, and healthy and happy life free from drugs. Please reach out to us now to start your journey to a safer and more fulfilling life. 

Source:

Infinite Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial guidelines and medical review policy.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. How is methamphetamine different from other stimulants, such as cocaine? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published October 2019. Accessed July 3, 2022. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/how-methamphetamine-different-other-stimulants-such-cocaine
Amanda Stevens, BS

Medical Content Writer

Amanda Stevens, BS

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Ocean Recovery, Ascendant NY, The Heights Treatment, Epiphany Wellness, New Waters Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed July 3, 2022

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